The AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam rocked the parliament session with allegations between the ruling NDA and the Congress leading to the adjournment of the session and the Congress party members storming out of the House after demanding a supreme court-monitored probe into the VVIP chopper deal.
Former defence minister and Congress leader AK Antony on Wednesday said in Rajya Sabha that it’s ‘proved beyond doubt there was corruption in the chopper deal’ and he asked the government to act now. “If you have all evidence, take action but don’t threaten us, don’t blackmail us,” Antony said in Rajya Sabha.
Alleging that an invisible hand was behind what he alluded to as an influenced probe, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said, “It appears an “invisible hand” was guiding the action or inaction of CBI and ED. The inquiry will focus on roles of those named in the judgement of Italian court.” In response to Antony’s remarks Parrikar said the trials were not conducted on chopper bought by India but another one as it was still at development stage.
BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy took the fight directly into the Congress' camp, saying that those named in a note written by one of the alleged middleman should be questioned by the CBI and if necessary it should be done in custody.
Citing Italian court's documents, he alleged that a bribe of 30 million euros was paid, out of which 6 million euros went to IAF personnel, 8.4 million euros to bureaucrats and Rs 125 crore to 'AP'.
Swamy's speech was repeatedly disrupted by the Congress members, who created ruckus with its leaders insisting on authentication of whatever he was reading from. He replied that he was reading from the same note that Singhvi read from.
He said if he were to authenticate, then Singhvi also should do so as there cannot be separate rules for different people.
In the midst of exchanges, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said both will have to authenticate. Singhvi then authenticated his documents.
Refuting the Congress allegation, Swamy, who was nominated as Rajya Sabha member only last week, said the NDA government had in 2003 only wanted the IAF to see if a single vendor situation can be avoided and that the views of the SPG should be taken.
"It is a lie to say that NDA had lowered the flying height from 6,000 feet to 4,500 feet," he said, citing a 2013 Parliament reply of then Defence Minister A K Antony in which he said that in 2004 the IAF had said 6,000 feet was an "inescapable necessity".
He said the tender issued in 2006 had incorporated the changes.
Under attack for his name being dragged in the AgustaWestland controversy, Congress leader Ahmed Patel today pressed for a thorough probe into the deal, declaring that he will quit Rajya Sabha as well as public life if any allegation against him is proved.
(With PTI inputs)
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